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Review: Magic of Christmas 2018, Pugh’s Garden Village

Every year, Pugh’s Garden Village is famed for its Santa and Christmas event.

When tickets first went on sale earlier this year, the garden centre hit the headlines when its Santa’s grotto sold out in record time. In fact, ever since I can remember, each year there has been a growing interest (no pun intended) in its annual Christmas event.

Despite only living a short distance away from Pugh’s in Radyr, we have never been there at Christmas, not unless we’re buying decorations or fancy a browse. This year, we decided to change that.

We went along to see for our-elves to find out what the fuss is about. This is what we found…

Upon arrival, you are greeted with a beautifully decorated entrance, complete with reindeer and sleigh.

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Pugh’s has always encourage you to take as many selfies as possible and this year isn’t any different. If you share your photo on social media, you are invited to take part to win an experience at Blue Stone Resort.

We arrived approximately 45 minutes before our time slot, which allowed us to grab a hot chocolate (complete with marshmallows and whipped cream) and to browse the wonderful festive gifts on offer.

Festive garden cafe

When ready, you head outside to the Christmas village where one of Santa’s elves will take your name and give your little one a ticket. This is your ‘train ticket’ for the experience.

Radyr Cross

Children are invited to wait in the train station, named Radyr Cross, and write a letter to Santa which can be posted there. Nice touch.

When called, children and adults go aboard Santa’s magical train.

I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a virtual reality (VR) experience, but it’s close and absolutely fantastic. Once you’ve taken a seat on the train, you begin your journey to the North Pole, but you don’t quite make it.

Instead, the train stops working and you are left stranded in the rainbow rainforest.

Through a series of rooms, guided by elves, children take part in tasks in which they pick up ‘unicorn poo’ and help make it snow. Eventually, they meet Santa in the final room.

Energy Redress scheme grants over £45k to Cardiff based charity
Santa’s Village

Throughout the experience, you are made to feel at home by the elves – unless you’re the one caught not singing (oops). The entire experience is very engaging and children are encouraged to participate at every stage. The elves were absolutely superb.

This is a group ‘meet & greet’ Santa experience, where children are sat around on blankets (adults on benches). Children are then called up individually to meet him, where he’ll ask what they’d like for Christmas etc.

This is the second group Santa experience that I’ve attended this year, and I must admit, I’m a huge fan of the format. You’re not rushed, as you might suspect, and there is a nice group atmosphere, and Children still get that 1:1 time. I think this works really well.

The verdict

Although this isn’t the cheapest visit to Santa, in my opinion it’s worth every penny – it costs £15 per child and £5 per adult. What you get is a full on Christmas experience, which last approximately 30 minutes. The Santa that they had was also really good, I swear it could have been the real one. My daughter certainly thought so.

Santa’s Toy Shop

We all know Christmas isn’t just about receiving presents, but let me tell you about gift your child will receive.

Santa will give your child a gift voucher, which allows them to pick a toy from Santa’s toy shop. The selection of toys on offer are far superior than those received elsewhere. This makes it an almost impossible decision for your child – but trust me, they’ll find something.

Brilliantly Festive


Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience. We can't wait to see what they do next year!

  • Overall experience
  • Value for money
  • Santa quality
  • Family friendliness